The ANC at 100


The African National Congress of South Africa celebrated its 100th birthday on Sunday.

Its centenary is surely a cause for celebration and hope for all who cherish freedom, civil rights and democracy.

Founded three years after the NAACP in the U.S., the ANC is one of the African continent's oldest and most enduring liberation movements.

Its leaders worked alongside W.E.B Du Bois in shaping the 20th century struggle against the color line.

Born in the struggle against white settler colonialism, the ANC's history is deeply rooted the struggle for human dignity and national independence.

Its heroes and heroines, like Walter and Albertina Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, J. B. Marks, Moses Mabhida, Ruth First, Chris Hani and Nelson Mandela, have earned a rightful place on progressive humanity's honor roll.

Labelled terrorists by an Afrikaner minority desperate to hold onto power, and suffering decades of persecution, banning, torture, imprisonment and exile, the ANC emerged in South Africa's 1994 democratic breakthrough as the leading political force in the country.

It was a signal moment in African and world history. Aided by a worldwide solidarity movement, including in the U.S., but principally by means of mass democratic struggle, South Africa's people rendered the apartheid-ruled country ungovernable, achieving a largely peaceful transition of political power.

Emphasizing unity and national reconciliation, the ANC's leadership moved quickly to adopt a new constitution restoring the African majority to its rightful place in leading South African society while emphasizing non-racialism and the unity of black and white.

Significantly, one of the ANC-led government's first acts was to unilaterally renounce and dismantle its nuclear arsenal.

These processes were no accident, but the fruit of a farsighted and seasoned leadership  steeped in the experience of the African and world revolutionary movements.

Emphasizing unity and eschewing dogma, ANC leaders formed an enduring alliance with the country's trade unions and Communist Party in a coalition that has stood the test of time and is now leading the country into its second decade of national independence.

It is a government that by all accounts still has a long way to go in fulfilling the goals set in South Africa's historic Freedom Charter. Unemployment and poverty remain intolerably high as does infection and early death from the AIDS pandemic. While government is in the hands of its people, South Africa remains a country deeply divided by racial, gender and class exploitation.

But observers must keep in mind that with still few years of government under its belt the country's national democratic revolution is yet in its earliest stages, comparable to Brazil and Venezuela in terms of length of time in office.

Indeed, in some respects state power in South Africa is still contested political space.

Also, let no one forget that because of the very character of its left-of-center government it is confronted by efforts at destabilization, economic isolation and regime change.

Like any modern political party in a capitalist country, the ANC  is also challenged within and without by big business designs to buy influence and peddle prestige and power.

By keeping its eye on unity and its feet firmly planted in the roots of its century-long experience, the ANC and its Tripartite Alliance partners will continue their steady march down the road to freedom and equality. They will meet obstacles and detours on the way but as Nelson Mandela once famously said, "There is no easy walk to freedom."

Photo: Nelson Mandela (centre), President of the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC), addressing correspondents at a press conference held today at UN Headquarters. He is flanked by Ibrahim Gambari (right), Chairman of the Special Committee against Apartheid, and David Dinkins, Mayor of the City of New York. 24/Sep/1993. UN Photo/John Isaac. Via UN Photo.

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  • thanks for this article.
    The ANC's anniversary is truly an event for the peoples of the planet to observe and, especially for those of us in the US, to remember.

    Posted by Ben Sears, 01/10/2012 8:09pm (4 years ago)

  • Thank you brother Walter Lippmann for the post.
    Cuba's contribution to the freedom of the African derived peoples and to all enmeshed in the crises of imperialism and capitalism is so great it is impossible to express by pen.
    As president Mandela said in Detroit, (in that case speaking to and of Motowners supporting the ANC) some years ago, people who sacrifice with obedience to struggling class brothers and sisters, in other places in the world, while they themselves struggle and suffer, have to be gravely and greatly appreciated.
    Such is the magnificent selfless sacrifice of the great Cuba. We can start to understand at this, the almost sacred support that Reverend Lucius Walker gave to Cuba, living by example what we should now do to support selfless Cuba.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 01/10/2012 3:11pm (4 years ago)

  • President Zuma Extols Cuban Suppor For South African Freedom

    Bloemfontein, South Africa, Jan 9 (Prensa Latina) South African President Jacob Zuma extolled Cuba's unconditional support in his country's struggle against apartheid.

    "Without Cuba's unconditional support for the movement, freedom would have not been achieved," said the president at the closing ceremony on the 100th anniversary of the African National Congress (ANC).

    Zuma gave the closing speech at an event attended by more than 100,000 South Africans in this city's stadium to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ANC, founded on January 8, 1912, and a bastion in the struggle for equality between black and white people.

    In his speech the head of State praised Cubans among the men, women, young people, church leaders and the foreign countries that helped the African nation to be free.

    Zuma also paid tribute to several African nations, such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Angola and Mozambique, for their support during the dark days of apartheid.

    The president also extolled the solidarity offered by Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

    According to 93-year-old Nelson Mandela, the first South African black president, the contribution from Cuban internationalists to the independence, freedom and justice in Africa has no parallel.

    Modificado el ( lunes, 09 de enero de 2012 )

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    Posted by Walter Lippmann, 01/10/2012 12:18pm (4 years ago)

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